A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that all 18 rectal cancer patients participating in an experimental drug trial went into remission following a six-month treatment.
The study, the Journal reported, was spearheaded by doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline also backed the research.
What are the details?
According to the study, 18 cancer patients who were given the experimental immunotherapy drug dostarlimab every three weeks for six months ended up in remission by the end of the trial.
A portion of the study read, “We initiated a prospective phase 2 study in which single-agent dostarlimab, an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody, was administered every 3 weeks for 6 months in patients with mismatch repair-deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma. This treatment was to be followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery.”
The stunning study found that all 18 patients saw a "clinical response, with no evidence of tumor on magnetic resonance imaging" following the six-month regimen.
"At the time of this report, no patients had received chemotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up," the study added in its findings. "No adverse events of Grade 3 or higher have been reported."
Study author Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr. told The New York Times that he believes the results are the "first time this has happened in the history of cancer." Study author Dr. Andrea Cercek added that the findings resulted in a "lot of happy tears." Dr. Kimmie Ng with Harvard Medical School lauded the results, calling them "unprecedented" and "remarkable," and Dr. Alan P. Venook — who was not involved in the study — added that such a finding was "unheard of."
According to the Times' report, the medication cost approximately $11,000 per dose.